It’s all messed up. Inside, I mean. Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.
I should focus on my relationship with God, my relationship with Julie then my children. But that’s not what we’ve got. We are certainly on our knees. No doubt. But then I think it’s our little girl. She is our primary focus. So our marriage is suffering…in some small way that’s hard to pin down. And our other children are feeling neglected.
We are out of whack.
Summary behind us, let’s go into the long-winded Chris Jordan blog post thingy.
There is nothing I can physically do to help my daughter. She is wrapping up 6 days at the hospital. I can’t help that. She cries in the morning because she wants to be home. She cries in the evening because she wants to be home. But she can’t be home. We can’t fix her at home. We can’t fix her at all. We have outsourced the fixing to the people most knowledgeable in the subject matter…possibly in the whole world. But I don’t feel that’s enough. Our doctors are hard working, knowledgeable, polite and, even, humorous. But they aren’t God.
And, yes, I believe in God.
And I believe God knows all about cancer.
So I pray. And Julie prays. And since there is nothing else for us to do, we pray a lot. This is a good thing. Our level of dependence on God is at 10…the highest it has been in years. And that’s good. Because that dependence is eternal. Forever. It won’t end. But sometimes, when life is calm, it is easy to forget.
But now we remember. Every minute of every day.
But the next priority is my relationship with Julie. Those kids we created? They will get hitched and move out within the next 10 years. My covenant with Julie is for life. That’s a long time. And we married early.
That lifelong agreement…that lifelong covenant…that life sentence I agreed to is kind of a big deal to both of us. But it seems like something we are just doing right now. It’s just a familiar pattern and we are going through familiar motions. Like brushing our teeth. It’s mechanical. Make coffee, eat breakfast, kiss. It’s just a daily pattern. We are working on momentum.
But what if we lose momentum?
Is that what happens to empty nesters? A couple realizes too late that their marriage has lost momentum…that they have been focused on their children for decades and now have little in common with the stranger across the sheet.
I don’t know. I’ve never been an empty nester. I can tell you things were certainly different before there were children.
And I can tell you things were different in August.
But then September happened. And now my daughter is ill and spends a third of every month in the hospital and the balance of the month sick or recovering from the medicine. Julie is with her every step of the way.
And that’s where Julie should be.
But the most important human relationship we have is our marriage.
Our little girl will grow up. The cancer will go into remission, she will grow, she will be strong, she will move into a home of her own.
So will the other kids.
But Julie and I will finish out our life sentence. We would like to continue to grow closer for the next 60 years but if things continue on their present course, if we continue to coast through our days without putting any effort into our relationship…well, people that go neglected begin to feel rejected. Unwanted. And, eventually, begin to consider alternatives.
The other kids are people too. People feeling neglected…
Our kids work hard. Their contributions need to be acknowledged. That 15-year-old manling is a feed sack carrying, hay bale lugging beast. He also plays guitar, enjoys video games, sports, time with friends, hunting and desires the attention of a select few young ladies.
He also had a birthday in the last week.
Where is his cake? Presents? What have we done to make him feel special?
It is not a question of “if”, it’s a question of “when?” When will he begin to express resentment? Some level of that is natural, normal…even important. He will want to spread his wings. That’s part of growing up. But the hospital is intensifying the pressure. How can I teach him to monitor his own emotional state as he is dealing with a sick sister, staying with grandparents, schooling himself, completing farm chores, helping with housework and, generally, sucking it up when I don’t have time/energy/ability to model it for him?
Or for the other two kids?
I don’t have any answers here. I don’t think there is anything you can do to help either. I think I, too, just have to suck it up. Go short on sleep. Renew my commitment to Julie and do so in front of the kids so at least they have the security of a stable household. That manling and I need to chat. Just chat. Even if his responses are single syllables. I have to show an interest in all of the children. Maybe work with them to find things all of us can do to help mommy rest and to help little sis to feel better. Or celebrate our evenings home without mommy by eating junk food and watching movies. I don’t really have specifics but I know I have to take an active role in building positive relationships in our home.
Because that’s my job.
I heard two women talking in the hospital. One was expressing herself publicly and was quite animated and energetic as she said, “I can’t respect a man who won’t do what a man should be doing.” I really don’t know what she meant but it sounded bad.
This is what I should be doing.
I love and honor Julie.
I care for my children.
In that order.